A former WA school principal has been jailed for stealing and defrauding more than $50,000 from the Education Department.

John McHale, 50, was the principal of the School of the Air in Meekatharra when he used school money to buy personal items and made false claims between 2006 and 2009.

Today he was sentenced in the District Court in Perth to two-and-a-half years jail but will be eligible for parole in 15 months.

Justice Patrick O'Neal said McHale showed no true remorse for his offences, which the judge described as "systematic dishonesty" and a "serious breach of trust".